Foreign trade continues slump

The volume of Swiss exports has sunk, as has the amount of imported goods Keystone Archive

Swiss foreign trade is showing no signs of recovery, with both imports and exports down in the first half of the year.

This content was published on July 23, 2003 - 09:51

Swiss exportation of goods and services has been in decline for the past two years, although importers to Switzerland have suffered less of a setback.

The reason for this was that the prices of imported goods have not gone down as much as those of the products exported by Switzerland.

Still, imports fell 3.6 per cent in value to just over SFr61 billion (2.2 per cent in volume or real terms).

According the federal customs office, the volume of Swiss exports was up one per cent compared with figures for this time last year.

However, the actual, export value to the Swiss economy fell by 2.3 per cent to a
total of around SFr64 billion.

Swiss industries hit

Analysts say the foreign trade figures reflect the worldwide economic slump, with consumer demand suppressed by job and pay worries.

In fact, the Swiss bought fewer imported consumer goods.

They spent SFr26.4 billion on foreign products, some three per cent down on last year.

But the import deficit has not necessarily helped production and exporters at home over the last six months.

The Swiss industries most affected by the downturn have been the chemicals, machinery and the electronics sectors.

The watchmaking industry also exported much less than expected in the first half of this year.

The capital goods sector, or domestic investment products, experienced a setback compared to this time last year.

Only energy and power producers were spared the latest downturn.

Balance of trade

Figures for June showed a further decline in the trade figures: imports went down 6.8 per cent compared with the same month last year while exports dipped by 4.7 per cent.

Despite the deterioration, last month's balance managed a trade surplus of SFr1.1 billion.

The active trade balance for the first six months closed with a surplus at SFr3.1 billion, the customs office said.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The foreign trade balance compares the worth of exports with the value of imports usually over a 12 month time period.

If the value of imports is higher than the export level, the trade balance becomes a deficit.

In the converse situation with more goods being exported than imported, the trade balance sees a surplus.

The Swiss economy is very much dependent on the success of its exports.

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